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2012 St. Thomas Fall VICL Charter Yacht Show

Top chefs (from left): Grassa Liesenberg; Audrey Harper; Micheale Zazo and Debbie Dickens
Top chefs (from left): Grassa Liesenberg; Audrey Harper; Micheale Zazo and Debbie Dickens

Made beautiful by crews rising before dawn and working late into the evening, the yachts on display at the 2012 Virgin Islands Charter Yacht Show, held at St. Thomas’ Yacht Haven Grande Marina, were certainly the cream of the crop, bedazzling visitors and media partners alike with their pristine bright work, guest amenities and sincere hospitality.

While hard-working crew took care of the visuals, below decks, away from the gaze of show-goers, chefs prepared for the Hors d’oeuvres & Appetizer Culinary Competition. No mean feat when the boat has recently arrived on the dock and already you have contributed to the topside sparkle in order to please the brokers.

Holding the competition on the first day of the show added to the pressure but the chefs came through with flying colors and an amazing display of creative and delicious dishes. So high were the standards set by the chefs that the judges’ scores were incredibly close.

All the dishes were of a high standard, however, special congratulations went to overall winner Micheale Zazo of the S/V Feel the Magic, who was not only top chef; this was her very first culinary contest.

Born in Denver, Colorado, Zazo attended college in Dallas, Texas. In 2005 she met Michael Hampton, and sharing their love of sailing, they chartered in the Caribbean several times on different yachts. Having decided to combine sailing with Zazo’s passion for cooking, they bought a yacht and went into the charter business.

Zazo says she entered the culinary hors d’oeuvres contest not only to show how she can cook, but how wines can compliment the food. As a certified Sommelier, pairing wines with food is something she enjoys very much.

Zazo’s winning dish was a delicious Ahi Poke Tuna Stack (see recipe).

The Virgin Islands Charter League (VICL), organizers of the popular Virgin Islands Charter Yacht Show, said that to put on the event takes a collective effort on behalf of the local business community and thanked them for their invaluable support throughout the year.

The organizers also thanked the judges: Darcy Ryan of Dionysus Wines; Andrea Lynes of the St. Thomas Restaurant Group; Kevin Jonas of Main Sail Yacht Charters; Sarah Sabastian of Nicholson Charters, and Jan Robinson, a judge and Culinary Contest Coordinator. All had the difficult job of selecting the winners.

All At Sea Magazine is a proud sponsor of the competition along with Yacht Haven Grande Marina; Ship to Shore Cookbooks; Dionysus Wines; Gourmet Gallery; St. Thomas Restaurant Group; Hunter Foods; Virgin Islands Coffee Roast; Aqua Action Dive Center; and Magic Ice.


1: Micheale Zazo, S/V Feel the Magic
2: Audrey Harper, S/V Flow
3: Grassa Liesenberg, S/V Rocketeer
3 (shared): Debbie Dickens, S/V Secret Oasis



Chef: Micheale Zazo. Yacht: Feel the Magic

Crab Salad:
4 oz crabmeat, “special” or claw meat
1 Tbsp lemon-old bay aioli
1 tsp finely chopped scallion
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Mix together all the above ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mango-Pineapple Salsa:
1 Tbsp diced mango
1 Tbsp diced fresh pineapple
1 tsp chopped scallion
1 tsp red bell pepper, small dice
1 tsp yellow bell pepper, small dice
1 tsp cilantro, chopped
½ jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine above ingredients, toss well and refrigerate until ready to use.

Avocado Mash:
½ ripe avocado, diced
1 Tbsp finely diced red onion
Juice from half of a lime
½ jalapeno, seeds removed and diced fine
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

Place diced avocado in bowl; add all remaining ingredients. Mash with a fork until the consistency of guacamole.

Ahi Poke:
2 oz sushi grade Ahi tuna, cut into cubes
½ clove of garlic, minced
½ tsp minced ginger
¼ tsp Sriracha sauce
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

Mix all items and marinate tuna for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

To assemble the stack:
Using a ring mold of approximately 3” in diameter by 5” high, spray the inside with cooking spray. Spoon the Avocado mash into the bottom of the mold, top with Ahi Poke, Crab Salad and then Mango-Pineapple salsa.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, serve on a chilled plate. Garnish with sliced cucumber, sweet chili sauce, chive oil, sprinkles of caviar and fried won ton chips.

Recommended Wine Pairing:  2010 Hook & Ladder (Sonoma County) Gewürztraminer

Capt. Jan Robinson’s Ship to Shore Cookbook Collection is available at your local marine or bookstore. Visit www.shiptoshoreINC.com email [email protected] Tel: 704-277-6521. Don’t miss the new cookbook added to Jan’s collection: DINING ON DECK

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